Beatrice and Benedick show their apparent distaste for each other right from the first scene. Beatrice mocks Benedick to the Governor of Messina, claiming that she always beats him in a battle of wits and the last time they crossed paths Benedict’s “five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed by one” (1,1,50). Clearly relishing resuming their ‘merry war’, Beatrice cuts Benedick down at the first opportunity, telling him “I wonder that you still will be talking, Signor Benedick, nobody marks you” (1,1,105). Incredulously, Benedick retorts, “what my dear lady distain! Are you yet living?” (1,1,95). So, the dynamic of the two is set and it goes on from there in the same vein. Yet, the reader, even at this early stage may ponder if the lady doth protest too much.
Shakespeare’s introduction of the other couple in question is in stark contrast to the way in which Beatrice and Benedick were introduced. Claudio and Hero are amorously receptive to one and other from the very start. Upon laying eyes on Hero, Claudio remarks of her to Benedict “is she not a modest young lady?” (1.1.125). Clearly, by having Claudio express his fondness of Hero to Benedick, the playwright directly compares the older and more cynical to the more young and naive, allowing the reader to see the contrasting personas of the two men. This is reinforced by Benedick, who after finishing listening to Claudio’s rhetoric on the charms of the young Hero (“in m...
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...ut Nothing is an extremely fast paced and witty play, Shakespeare very much has love as his central theme. There are two very different, yet equally compelling relationships that are explored in depth. They run through the play concurrently, allowing the reader to compare and contrast the different facets and complexities between the two. The playwright’s rich understanding of relationships, and particularly his understanding of the fact that love is not always as formulaic as many a writer would have us believe, makes for a fascinating read. In fact, by directly comparing a realistic couple, full of real world self doubt and a fear of rejection with a very stereotypical love-at-first-sight type of relationship, Shakespeare is possibly making the point that love and relationships have more depth than is often given credit.
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